Money Woes in State Government

The State Controller’s Office (SCO) is once again delaying cash reimbursements to State employees for travel expenses. Whether this is a software issue or a result of budget shortfalls is not known. This is in addition to the spending freeze that is in place in parts of the government.

The CalATERS (California Automated Travel Expense Reimbursement System) program used by the Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been down frequently for over six weeks now. The amount of man-hours wasted by users trying to make use of this program is incredible. Its failure is approaching that of the DMV boondoggle of several years ago and thus far the media has not gotten wind of this problem.  SCO has responded with mass approvals and deletions of unaudited claims but the problems still persists.

I can’t wait until Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner gets their hands on the waste, fraud and abuse of systems like CalATERS. This system is so contrary to GAAP that it should never have gone live; let alone been rolled-out for use by agencies of State government.

Here are some shortcomings of the program.
• CalATERS cannot check for duplicate claims for the same trip or expenses.
• Approvers do not have to be immediate supervisors or even in the chain of command for employees.
• Receipts are not required for reimbursement of many transactions.
• There is no procedure to report waste, fraud or abuse of expenses charged directly to the State.
• Auditors have no written policies or uniform standards and training to audit claims.
• Due to system shortcomings, archive data further back than about three months cannot be pulled-up on the computers of auditors. Detailed claim history should be available for at least three fiscal years including the current one.
• Since multiple Regional Accounting Offices (RAOs) are pooled together, there are no clear cut delineations of which employee reports to a particular RAO.